MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

"Tad Holbie's" weblog of his 2002-03 business school application experience.
Home | Tad's Applications | Archives | Site Info | Disclaimers | Epilogue
Useful Links
Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

MBA Prep Books I Used:
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* scheduled chats
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
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* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
* BlogHop - Weblog rating system
* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
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06/01/2002 - 06/07/2003
06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
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Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me? Google it for yourself). I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their server!
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!). The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity. If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc. (i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at (and no, that isn't my real name).
About Interviews: I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
Privacy Policy: If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission. I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source. If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail. Any questions, e-mail me at
Posting Policy: Basically, anything you post can be reviewed by me. If I find a post to the message board or comment system that is sufficiently rude, offensive, moronic, I'll feel free to a) delete it, and/or b) ban you from posting ever again. In conclusion: You don't have free speech on my site, so don't be a jerk.

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Posted 4:40 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200029801:

I saw this on the Michigan M-Trak board, thought it was a great idea, and so want to share it with you. The Wireless Foundation is a charity that accepts old cell phones, refurbishes them, and then uses them to help victims of domestic violence. What better way to get rid of old cell phones than to pass them on to people truly in need. Their URL is:

Friday, March 21, 2003
Posted 3:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200025053:

Pre-GBR UMBS Chat?
Is anyone interested in participating in a Michigan chat next Friday, March 28, between 12:30pm and 2:30pm EST? If so, just leave a comment below or on B-Week. The chat would be here, as opposed to M-Track, so that participants could remain anonymous. Of course, I would expand the message board to "chat room" size.

Posted 2:35 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200006021:

The Columbia Alumni Interview
This was the culmination. The culmination of the experiences from the five previous interviews. Not only did I deliver the points I wanted to deliver, but I felt we had a good personal connection as well.

First, the details. I chose to interview with an older alumni (graduated over a decade ago) and it worked out really well for me. I met him at his office and we spoke for a good hour, hour and fifteen minutes. It was very unstructured, more like a conversation than an interview. He only asked a few outright questions of me--how I chose Columbia and what other schools I was applying to are the only two that come to mind. Instead of having a question and answer rythm, it was more like a conversation that I directed, touching on the points that I wanted. I can say that after five interviews, I have finally picked up how to direct the interview.

More important, we really saw eye-to-eye on so many issues. When I directed the conversation to Columbia's international focus, to its all-around strengths, to my leadership/management philosophy (these were all topics I introduced, mind you), he shared very similar views to mine. When he brought up a lesson he learned from his MBA days, I could not only say I agreed but point to how I had avoided the same pitfall when I was an undergraduate. By the end of the interview, he was talking about what I should do "when" I got CBS, how he thought I was a great fit, and how hard he would work to see me get in. And likewise, I was thinking, "If this person is representative of Columbia, I'd fit in there like a hand in a glove."

I feel more optimistic now about my CBS application than I have about any other. Of course, I recognize that CBS has apps from tons of great applicants, so things could always turn against me. It's just that I was already very happy with my essays, so the interview felt like icing on the cake. Here's hoping.

(Note: This was written on the day of the interview, and only posted today)

Posted 11:15 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200022144:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* No more deadlines/countdowns for me! Woo-hoo!

My status:
* UMBS - Admitted
* Kellogg - Waitlisted (Round 2)
* Columbia - Interviewed

Posted 10:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200023198:

2002 Kellogg Waitlist Wrapup
Today's a quiet day at the office, so I checked out the 2002 Kellogg waitlist thread on B-Week (# 25039). The good news is that there were plenty of admits, most of them coming pretty quickly (after the R2 decision deadline). The bad news is that there weren't any surefire ways to be admitted--basically all they did was experess interest and wait. What follows is my rough summary of the progress of the WL thread:

Early April (# 91) - Up to this point, the thread was mostly people announcing they were waitlisted, maybe one or two admits at most.
April 16-18 - About two weeks after the R2 decision deadline, a whole bunch of WL admits were sent out (see 151, 158, 170, 179, 184, and 207). This was, by far, the biggest "wave" of admits off the WL.
May 1-3 - A couple weeks later there was a smaller wave of admits (see 249, 253, 259, 260, 266, 298).
May 9 - A couple more people admitted (see 376, 383).
May 22-24 - After a few weeks of silence, a couple more people were admitted (see 468, 483). I started seeing people getting dinged around this point, too.
Late May - July - From late May onward, there were just a scattering of random admits (see 502, 536, 572, and 591). Come July, the "end of the line" emails started going out (see 640 for the text).

One other thing. When WL candidates got the "status change" e-mail, it sometimes took a little while for them to find out if it was an admit. The one surefire way seemed to be to check the name in the Kellogg directory, in which all admits names appeared. I don't know if that would work this year, but for reference it's URL is:

Posted 8:44 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200022517:

Although billed as "job hunting tips", this list could just as well help you out during the business school application process. A sample:

"When waiting for a job interview and a fellow applicant is there, strike up a conversation. Then, when it's your turn to be interviewed, stand up and say, "See ya, sicko." Explain to the interviewer that he invited you to a goat-sex orgy."

Thursday, March 20, 2003
Posted 12:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200016753:

A glaring reminder of why you should take B-Week forum advice with a grain of salt: that person counselling against going to Michigan just might be on the waitlist him/herself!

I think at a bare minimum, people should indicate in their posts what their relationship is with a school before dissing/supporting it. Even after doing so, I think it's kind of pathetic to try to get into a program by convincing others to go elsewhere.

Posted 9:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200016173:

Just a thought: what about organizing a large, all-school, class of 2005 pre-MBA happy hour sometime in July? I live near a city that probably has a sizeable MBA applicant pool. Something to keep in the back of my head til the summer...

Posted 8:50 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200015868:

For fellow CBS applicants: This post summarizes the stages of the application process. Note that interviewers are expected to submit their evaluation within a week of the interview, so your status should change to "Complete" in that time frame. It could remain in complete for a variable amount of time; on B-Week I've seen people accepted only a week after the interview to those accepted over a month later.

Posted 8:23 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200015743:

I see that Wharton Round 2 decisions just went out (though the B-Week thread is curiously subdued). Congrats to those who made it!

Posted 6:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200015404:

That's the spirit!
In the "Ann Arbor" section of the admit binder, on page 9-4, it has a table illustrating how AA stacks up against other cities in terms of quality of life (i.e. crime, household income, etc.). Can you find a pattern in the cities AA is compared to: Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Evanston, Durham, and Charlottesville (VA)? I love competition, and there's nothing like subtly taking a jab at your competitors when you can. All in good fun!

FYI, of that group, AA is tops in household income, percent executive/professionals, violent crime per 100,000, school achievement index, high school graduates, four-year college graduates (31%), PhD graduates, and percent who bike or walk to work. Phew. On the down side, it is only third in physicians per capita, and is last in annual inches of precipitation (i.e. it gets the most rain/snow).

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Posted 9:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200013587:

Wow, the UMBS admit binder is thick and pretty. It'll take me a few days to go through it all. It had the desired effect though: now I'm really chomping at the bit to get on up to Ann Arbor. What whetted my appetite the most? Believe it or not, the section on the curriculum--I felt like "Yes, that is what I want to study!" It's a bit embarassing to admit that, but when you're working in a field that's not interesting to you, those finance classes seem like the doorway to a new and better life. Does anyone else look at "Corporate Strategy" or "Human Behavior and Organization" and think "cool"?

A quick rundown of what's included:
* A Visitors Guide to Washtenaw County. Having never been to Michigan (or anywhere else in the Midwest, other than Chicago), all I can think of is "exotic".
* The binder itself has the official admission offer letter, scholarship letter, some brochures about the Go Blue Rendevous and housing, and then tons of material on different aspects of the school.

Various Notes:
* Classes begin September 2, the Leadership Development Program August 25, and the optional QSW on August 18/19.
* Page 8-4, a detailed list of Housing Complexes in the area, is indispensible. I'm seeing 1BR prices from $600s to $900s
* By the way, I noticed that the Go Blue Rendezvous page says "Be sure to reigster by March 24th"


Posted 4:40 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200012525:

Yes! My UMBS admissions binder was delivered today. Can't wait to get home and check it out...

Posted 1:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200011387:

This is a subject that I'm woefully ignorant about. Here's my basic understanding of them:

Need Based - Awarded by schools to incoming students who are deemed financially needy. I know I'm not going to qualify for these, so haven't investigated them much. My general impression is that these are awarded later than merit based scholarships, because they require some further documentation of the candidate's financial status.

Merit Based - Most schools have a generic "merit-based" scholarship rewarding academic excellence and/or career successes. Usually the criteria are kept private. The amount can be a few thousand to (in rare cases) full tuition. From my reading, most schools communicate the merit scholarship info at the time of acceptance--for example, with UMBS, the admission binder will have merit scholarship info (if you are awarded one).

Criteria Based - Some schools also have other scholarships for students who meet certain criteria, like coming from a particular country or graduating from a particular undergraduate school. I think these are setup by a wealthy donor alumni (of the b-school) and run through the admissions office. A few of the applications I filled out spoke of these scholarships, but I never met any of the criteria (which were things like being a British citizen or graduating from some obscure college). By the way, I use the phrase "criteria based" because I don't know the official name for them.

Private Scholarships - There are other organizations that offer private scholarships, but I know next to nothing about them. Heading into my undergraduate school, I think I got a couple hundred dollar scholarship from my local Rotary Club or some other community organization; that's the sum of my experience on this. I think visiting the local library or searching the web would uncover a lot more info on the subject. I would doubt that there are many organizations eager to give b-school students money, but who knows?

Update: This post contains all the details on UMBS' scholarships.

Posted 11:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200010547:

Is the weather messing anyone else up? Over the past ten days (starting in Hong Kong), I've gone from 70 degrees and humid, to 60 degrees and dry, to 20 degrees and dry, to 30 degrees and rainy, to 70 degrees and humid, now back to 30 degrees and dry. Global warming, global cooling, I don't care: Just make up your mind!

Speaking of which, here are the forecasts for Ann Arbor and Evanston.

Posted 9:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200010087:

I really like the animation Thibault used to symbolize his scholarship from Duke (congrats!):
(Image not found)


Posted 8:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200009593:

I was reading Richard Brookhiser's article "What Makes W. Tick?" in the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly (highly recommended). I came across the following paragraph, which I thought would be interest to some of you as it compares business school and law school. Keep in mind the author, a conservative historian, is approaching the topic from how it relates to President Bush's background (hence, the focus on HBS):

"An important effect of going to business school is that it may keep one from going to law school--an especially important effect these days, when so many people in government have legal training. Many law schools and business schools, including Harvard's, use the case method, requiring students to work through historic trials or the problems of actual companies. But they use the method differently. Law school accustoms future lawyers to discerning theoretical constructs, either in pas decisions or in legal principles, and applying them to the case at hand. Business school immerses future businessmen in the histories of specific companies, in order to develop problem-solving abilities. Law school worships understanding, business school worships skill. Law-school students scrutinize what has been done. If business-school students don't quite learn by doing, they learn how things have been done" (emphasis added).

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Posted 2:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200005843:

To members of the military:
I also see that I have some readers from the US military ( and, particularly). I want to express my deep appreciation to you for your service to our country, and to the world. I truly believe that the US military is one of the most unappreciated global institutions, at least according to what I read in the foreign press. Well, you're very much appreciated here.

Thank you.

Posted 12:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200004256:

Thanks to Brian at Business Week for posting a link to last year's article, "Playing the Wait-List Game". It's message: the only hope for getting off a waitlist is to...wait!

Posted 11:39 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200004734:

A thoughtful thread on how to ask for a decision date extension.

Posted 11:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200004700:

Every once in a while I like to see who's visiting my site, just out of curiosity. As usual, its a potpourri. I see (see you in a couple of weeks!), (congrats on the deal with Gandolfini), and (please give me a job next summer!), to name a few. Welcome!

Posted 9:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200003878:

Apparently CBS didn't mean for their Interview Training Materials to be public, after all. The MS Word document has been removed from their server, and the Intro page's text has even been edited (see: before and after, courtesy of Google's cache).

I don't think it's appropriate for me to disseminate it on my webpage. Obviously, CBS did not intend for it to be made public (or rather, to be made public within the applicant community), so I'll respect their wishes.

Monday, March 17, 2003
Posted 9:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200002040:

Just in case you are wondering, it's a 240 mile drive from Chicago to Ann Arbor. After I visit Kellogg April 3rd, I'll be travelling this route. Hope its scenic...

Posted 9:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200001968:

I just realized that the Montauk book ("How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs") does contain some general advice about waitlists and steps to take after admittance. I'll read them over and post anything interesting.

Posted 5:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200001131:

A reader sent me a copy of an article appearing in the March 6th issue of CBS' Bottom Line newspaper (they apparently don't keep the web edition updated, tsk-tsk). Apparently Columbia is also contemplating switching to a grade non-disclosure policy:

"Columbia students will soon have the opportunity to voice their opinion on grade disclosure. Last Thursday, the Graduate Business Association (GBA) passed a referendum by an overwhelming majority that will put the decision of grade disclosure in the hands of students."

However, there's a high hurdle to have the policy changed: 70% of eligible voters must approve of grade non-disclosure. That means 70% of all students, not 70% of those who vote.

Apparently several schools are grappling with this issue. As I reported on February 5th, Kellogg has begun studying moving to non-disclosure, whereas at Chicago GSB there apparently is some unhappiness with the non-disclosure policy.

Posted 5:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200001041:

Posting will be pretty light over the next few weeks; really, there's little happening. Actually, there's plenty happening (and I'm getting great news on all fronts) but it's of the private variety.

Posted 8:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390846111:

A few more waitlist thoughts
Based on your emails, the b-week forum, Kristen's postings, and everything else I've read, it's clear that Kellogg actively uses the waitlist both for managing class balance and yield. Basically, the best you can do is 1) make your interest in Kellogg crystal clear; 2) add a bit more depth to your application showing the fit with the school; and 3) pray that the other applicants in your "category" aren't as strong or choose other schools (i.e. professional mimes should pray that the other accepted mimes turn down Kellogg offers). It's really not in your control beyond that.

Posted 7:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90757903:

Kellogg Waitlist
First, a disclaimer: I am going to be more circumspect than usual in writing about my approach to the waitlist, decisions about schools, etc. It's a pretty personal matter, and there's only so much I'm willing to share on a public website.

I did receive the Kellogg waitlist letter in the mail on Saturday. Alas, it didn't contain any point of weakness that I needed to address, so it looks like I'm one of the borderline waitlistees. Sigh.

It does seem like Kellogg admits a much larger number of waitlisted candidates compared to most schools. "In recent years, approximately 300 candidates were placed on the wait list and we have been able to admit about a third of this group." This compares to admittance rates of under 10% for many other schools (for example, Tuck admitted 14 of 150 waitlistees last year). Though Kellogg's #1 ranking this year might cause its yield to increase somewhat, the odds of getting accepted off the waitlist appear higher than the odds when I first submitted the app.

So, what's my next step? Pretty simple. I'll write a short letter indicating my interest in Kellogg and giving some more depth to why I'd be a good fit there. I want them to know that I'm interested and to keep my app "alive". I think that, through the end of March, they'll be too busy finishing off the Round 2 decisions to take any action on the recent waitlistees, so I'll leave things be.

Come the first week of April, I will head up to Kellogg to see the campus, talk to students, sit in on a class, and go to an information session. I'll reflect on the experience and decide how best to proceed.


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